Malnutrition in the elderly residing in long-term care facilities: a cross sectional survey using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA®) screening tool

Liska Robb, Corinna May Walsh, Riette Nel, Annica Nel, Hester Odendaal, Reon van Aardt


Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine and compare the nutritional status of the elderly in two long-term care facilities - one situated in a higher socio-economic area and one in a lower socio-economic area.

Design: A cross-sectional study was undertaken.

Setting: The study setting comprised two urban areas of Bloemfontein, Free State province, South Africa.

Subjects: Sixty-two elderly residing in a long-term care facility from both the higher and lower socio-economic areas agreed to participate and met inclusion criteria (N = 124).

Outcome measures: The nutritional status of participants was assessed using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA®) questionnaire. Indicators of nutritional status that were assessed as part of the validated MNA® included anthropometry, a global assessment, dietary assessment and subjective assessment. A total score of 24 or more points was interpreted as being wellnourished.

Results: Malnutrition was identified in 3.2% of participants from the long-term care facility situated in the higher socio-economic area and 11.3% from the lower socio-economic area. A significantly higher percentage of participants from the lower socioeconomic area were found to be at risk of malnutrition than those from the higher socio-economic area (74.2% vs. 37.1%) [95% CI 19.8%; 51.4%]. Participants from the higher socio-economic area consumed significantly more fluid and protein rich foods than their counterparts.

Conclusion: Elderly participants from the lower socio-economic area were more likely to have a poor nutritional status and be at risk of malnutrition. The findings highlight the need to focus on screening for malnutrition in order to promote health and prevent the possible development of nutrition-related co-morbidities in the elderly.

(Full text available online at

South Afr J Clin Nutr 2017; DOI: 10.1080/16070658.2016.1248062


Malnutrition; Elderly; MNA

Full Text:


S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268

The South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) is peer reviewed and an approved South African journal for the measurement of research output of public higher education institutions (Department of Education (DE) accredited).

SAJCN is proudly published by Medpharm Publications (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 14804, Lyttelton, 0157, RSA, Tel: +27 12 664 7460, Fax: +27 12 664 6276, Website:

This journal is hosted by: Medpharm Publications. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 South Africa License